Episode 20: 9/11 Ten Years Later

Episode 20: 9/11 Ten Years Later: Where were you on 9/11? Jim was at a BMW dealership, Gar was in Morocco, David was on his way to work, and our guest Richard Rozzi, a Vietnam era Navy vet, was in divorce court. We all have our memories of that morning that in its way was the impetus for Stand At Ease. In this special podcast, we look at what happened that day and where it is leading our nation and the world.

From D. Bjorn and read during the show:

Late October, 1986,
I sat on the edge of the flight deck,
watching the Atlantic surge and flow
as our amphib force steamed west,
making our way home.
Such a quiet journey it was
compared to the first Trans-Lant
where we plowed and shuddered through
wind whipped water walls
churned by an endless storm,
heaving and pitching us,
rag dolls in a tempest’s tantrum –
six months later and the ship glided
gently over the waves,
the period long and soothing.

I sat there, watching the wake disappear
long before it met the horizon’s curve
when a sergeant sat next to me,
three reams of office paper –
overstock not allowed to return through customs –
never have understood that –
and he started to methodically make paper airplanes.
One after the other,
his hands folded the paper in a physical mantra.
Each one made tossed into the slipstream turbulence
at the stern of the ship,
without fail, the crafts fell to the sea
not getting high enough to break
the downdraft pull.

“Hey, Sergeant, mind if I give it a go?”
He handed me close to a hundred sheets
and we talked and joked
about our shitty paper airplane engineering aptitudes,
laughing as we folded,
and watched them corkscrew into the wash.
Over and over and time after time
as the paper piles dwindled-
Until finally there were but two sheets left,
I took mine and in mock frustration,
flung it straight up into the air,

throwing it high enough for it to break over the top
of the slipstream cap
and that single, flat sheet became a wing.

We watched.
As it floated.
Sunlight catching on the stark whiteness,
twirling until it was lost from sight.

Part 2

I turned on the TV in the break room
after listening to reports on the morning news
of a plane that took a left instead of a right
and parked itself on the eighty-second floor
of the tallest building in New York,
wanted to see what the cameras saw,
wanted to get that passerby-rubbernecker’s thrill
of the bystander at the accident scene,
a voyeur peeking through the distance,
and I watched smoke pour out of the gaping maw.
I settled in, coffee steaming from the cup, the talking heads
discussing the response teams’ intentions,
while the second airship,
in the clear blue late summer sky,
caused the world’s heartbeat to skip-stop-stutter.
We watched the replay time and time again–
wishing to believe a bad dream permeated
our collective unconscious in a Jungian nightmare.

Through the smoke and dust
upon the winds
floated sheet upon sheet of paper,
twisted, twirling, dipping, dancing
a waltz one thousand feet over head
of rescue workers and debris-coated survivors
running through Liberty Plaza,
unable to look to the skies above
and see the paper sheets released
from inside the metal box,

moving with the grade of skaters
on the morning winds.

Part 3

It was but a moment
that the camera captured the beauty,
taking me back to the fight deck edge
of the aging gray battle bucket taking me from harm’s way,
and now, we’re both retired,
watching as younger men and ships
are sent to do jobs we no longer can –
but, we’ll watch as single sheets of paper
slip and dance on rivers of air
and hope the dance becomes
a dance of liberation,
a dance of joy.

8 Oct 2011

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